Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debate: Re-Run from 20th Century for McCain

Did you hear it last night in the debate?

Yes, that familiar set of Republican campaign assertions - my foe is a tax and spend liberal, he'll raise your taxes, he's to the far left, he's inexperienced, he'll increase the size of government, he doesn't get it.

Like a broken record from 1984, 1988 or 1992...McCain made these points over and over again last night. Like a familiar dispatch from the 20th Century. 

Weak stuff as a central argument if you ask me...especially from a guy whose political party has dominated for the last 28 years. 

The debate was close in my book, but at least Obama presented himself on par with McCain and got plenty of zingers in that I see now making the rounds on the news today.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Whose to blame for the current crisis?

With all the drama this week with the financial crisis and what to do about it, one prominent strain of conversation on TV and in DC is who to blame.

Everybody has their favorite culprit. Bush. De-regulation and those who championed it for years. Fat cats on Wall Street. Bankers. Lobbyists.

I think all those types are partially to blame. But, who gave them position and license to create this mess?

Yes, the American people. And that's primarily who is to blame.

We, the American people, have continually been conned by the false gods that conservatives put out there to entice us to vote for them. Family values. Rugged individualism. Ownership society. Compassionate conservatism. Get government off our backs. Read my lips. Who are you gonna trust? San Francisco. East coast elite. Supply side economics. Tax and spend liberals. Culture of life. There you go again. Government is the problem.

Sound familiar?

These are among the many short-hand "tag lines" conservatives from Reagan to W have used to dupe voters into giving them power. Problem is that once in power these so-called conservatives have not done anything to follow through on their promises except to deregulate many sectors of the economy to enrich their donors and cronies.

Well, that game just came to it's natural and predictable conclusion. Crisis. And we're all going to pay for it.

Congratulations America. You got what you deserve.

The good news is that you, American voter, can change things by voting smart in November. Think about what your issues are, what your problems are and what local and national candidates can really solve...and who has the credibility to do it.

Is it really that conservative talking to you about family values and fiscal restraint? That person who has presided over massive debt while doing nothing on  your values issue? Or, maybe it's the other candidate running in whatever race your looking at. 

Think. Reverse where this country is heading.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Desperation is Showing

OK, now this whole thing with McCain saying he is "suspending" his campaign to be in DC to participate in the bailout talks (and by the way lets cancel the first debate) is starting to make some sense.

Late today it comes out that McCain wants to postpone (forever presumably) the one VP debate to replace it with the one he will be missing on Friday. 

Story here.

Is this "country first?" 


It's "holy cap Palin could really damage us in the one debate, lets try and get rid of it." And they're using the current crisis to do it.

You can just see the McCain camp's desperation unfold today....
  • Get caught off guard by Obama's call early in the day proposing a joint statement on the financial crisis
  • After a few hours thinking about it, by mid-day they try and "country first" Obama by saying McCain will be in DC "dealing" with the crisis and not at the debate
  • Late in the day they realize they can use the crisis to eliminate a possible train wreck of Palin in the VP debate.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Glasvegas Release Album - It's Good. Real Good.

The band Glasvegas have finally released their debut album - self titled Glasvegas.

As you may have read from previous posts, I'm real high on this Scottish group as generating raw, passionate, well constructed and meaningful rock and roll in a day and age of samples, sugar pop, fluff and DJs. Sure enough, the album debuted at the top of the UK charts upon release.

With their initial set, the Glasgow-based band puts forth a complete document. It's a record you can listen to from beginning to end. Rock rave ups, slow epics and mid-paced tunes - the album has it all. Many of the songs here were also released in a very limited vinyl run in the UK earlier this year, and the versions here are slightly different. Equally good, but just slightly richer on the new album.

Cover art above. (Artwork created by Glasvegas.)

The group's sound is a a fresh and intriguing mix of Phil Spector "wall of sound," rock, do-wop, Clash-style passion, Jesus & Mary Chain ambiance and Scottish folk. And that would be enough to take note, but on top of that the band's leader, James Allen, pens and delivers lyrics in a Scottish accent that tell stories that for the most part you haven't heard before in song - tales of social workers, murder victims, fatherless homes, liars coming to grips with their life and more. This is another element of creating great rock music in my mind - writing about what affects you, what you see in your life and what you have to say about it.

Joining Allen in the lineup are Rab Allen on lead guitar, Paul Donoghue on bass and Caroline McKay on drums.

(Picture above right NOT taken by me.)

Without further ado, here is a track-by-track review for your consideration:
  1. Flowers and Football Tops - A song about a parent who has lost his or her son. While the lyric doesn't say if it's violence 0r an accident, what's clear is the parent is destroyed by this death. The title of the tune references beautiful and fun things that don't matter any more now that the son is gone. "No sweeping exits, no Hollywood endings, flowers and football tops don't mean a thing." A sad subject to be sure, but on the other hand the music is propelling and James Allen's delivery very convincing. All in all, a song that tugs at the heartstrings.
  2. Geraldine - The first single from the album, and perhaps the best song of them all. See my review here. You can also hear the song and see the video at the band's site here. Just click on the "Glasvegas Media Player" on the left side of the site.
  3. It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry - This song centers on the guilt felt by a deeply insecure person who has covered up for these shortcomings with a life full of lying and cheating. Finally, he is now seeing for the first time the hurt he has caused others and himself. Swept up in an epic and melodic tune, the singer admits a series of sins in the first part of the song. Then, all of a sudden the moment of reckoning comes - "where the outcome unfurls and the truth is being told." This is the singer looking his dishonesty and guilt straight in the face - the "grand finale and crescendo of demise" where, as the music builds to a dramatic peak, he ultimately exalts that it's his "own cheating heart that makes" him cry.
  4. Lonesome Swan - This a straight forward "don't get yourself too down little girl, tomorrow's gonna be fine" song that, while sporting a compelling and moving tune, doesn't particularly rate among the album's best. But, having said that, it's still a very listenable tune and a good bridge between the previous and next track.
  5. Go Square Go - This is a song about standing up to bullies. In this one, Allen articulates the words a son is hearing from his Dad as he tells his "square" boy to stand up and fight those who are pushing him around. And Dad ain't taking no for an answer. "Don't you make me come down to the pub with all my mates knowing some individual smashed you up." At the end, the square speaks for himself and agrees his "dad is right" and that "this bullying has got to stop tonight." In that last line, one wonders if the square is saying he wants to go after his father the bully just as much as anyone else.
  6. Polmont On My Mind - This song is about a man in jail thinking about his situation in life and his regrets. Building from a slow start the song reaches critical mass in the latter third for a powerful ending.
  7. Daddy's Gone - The second single from this album. See my review here. You can also hear the song and see the video here.
  8. Stabbed - While you gotta love a song that takes on the subject of the inevitability of getting stabbed in Glasgow (apparently quite a problem there), this one is a little out of place given the that the lyrics are a bit spotty and the dirge of a tune tires a little by halfway through. A previous version of this song was radically different - a musical rocker. I like that version better.
  9. S.A.D. Light - It's a winter landscape in this song...both musically and the heavy hearted protagonist wanders alone in the cold, dark night looking up at the constellations and contemplating life.
  10. Ice Cream Van - A very light hearted title for a serious song about the evils of intolerance and racism. The "voice" in this one is sitting on the pavement curb of some gray, stormy city waiting for the one true and good thing he can count on in this horrible, screwed up world - the ice cream van. The call at the end for "active citizenship" and "pure community" as a storm is building on the horizon either signals hope or is a rally cry to the barricades of goodness in a hopeless situation.
It's interesting that some other great songs by this band such as Legs 'n Show, Colin the Copper, Whitey, The Prettiest Thing on Saltcoasts Beach, and a cover of Be My Baby were left off the record. Perhaps they will surface as b-sides in the future.

To summarize, I highly recommend Glasvegas. Buy it to get Geraldine, Flowers & Football Tops, Dady's Gone, It's My Own Cheating Heart and Go Square Go, and because this is what I'd call a complete album...enjoy the other five quality songs as a bonus.

If I was a music magazine I'd give it a five stars out of five rating.

Friday, September 19, 2008

McMain: Bad Judgement on Social Security and Regulation

OK, here's one for you...

You know how the stock market has been in freefall this week?

What if Bush, McCain and other like-minded Republicans had been successful in privatizing Social Security back in 2005 and 2006 - moving assets of the program into the stock market as they wanted to do?

How many people across America would have seen their means of living evaporate in one week with no certainty it will be made back?

Luckily a more realistic coalition of Democrates and level headed Republicans prevented that from happening.

Here's another one for you...

What's the one thing that's turning things around starting today with the big market rally? Yes, governent regulation. And which of the two Presidential candidates is a lifelong proponent of extensive de-regulation of markets (including financial markets) that set the table for this big problem? Yes, John McCain.

Both of these situations are more clear examples of bad judgement by McCain - bad judgement that we can avoid by not voting for him in 2008.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Passing of a Great Man

This week the world became a lesser place with the passing of a great man.

Yes, a great man. But not famous one - not someone you likely know. 

But, Glenn Anderson of Sinclairville, NY was someone worthy of the title of "great" as he was everything that people should strive to be in this world. Glenn was bright, quick, smart, funny, interesting, polite, industrious, curious, a hard worker, fun-loving, dedicated to family and much more.

His easy going style and love of life was infectious. I remember Diane and I attending an NBA basketball game with him here in Seattle a few years ago, and while we did enjoy the ins and outs of the game, the conversation flowed non-stop over topics far and wide - computers, politics, other sports, up-state NY, and many others. Glenn made you fell right at home, even in the nose bleed seats at a basketball stadium.

Glenn was such a nice guy that I doubt he would ever say he was "great," but I will. In short, he was a spectacularly decent human being. 

To put a finer point on it...the world needs more Glenn Andersons not fewer and it's damn sad that he is gone.

Glenn, rest in peace.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

McCain Lies A Lot, Acknowleges It, Doesn't Care

John McCain and Sara Palin lie.  A lot.

And, according to their own campaign spokesperson...they know it and don't care.

See here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 Reminder

Clearly the primary remembrance today needs to be about the thousands of people who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001 as a result of the terrorists attacks on our country. And immediately after that, supportive thoughts go out to the families left behind when their loved ones were killed on that day.

However, another thing to remember on this solemn anniversary is this...

On Sept. 11, 2001 the Presidency, both houses of Congress, the Department of Defense, National Security Agency, the city of New York and the state of New York were all run and controlled by Republicans.

They all failed us despite warnings. We paid the price for their "leadership" at that time and since.

So, that's something to remember in this election year when we decide the type of people we want leading our nation in today's dangerous world.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Obama Needs to Act Now - Or Lose

Somebody needs to get to Obama, look him in the eye and tell him...

The election will be won or lost RIGHT NOW - in the next two weeks. Not Nov. 4.

The Republican convention effectively wiped out Obama's voice in this election and re-directed the discourse from a referendum on failed leadership of McCain, Bush and the Republicans and the need for fundamental change to "isn't Sara Palin great and you know...John McCain was a POW."

Seriously, Obama should have a "change policy of the week" for the next six weeks and harp on those sequentially in key states where it's close right now and in the media...culminating in the first debate where he can re-harp on these ideas and challenge McCain for having none. During the next few weeks, he should also have Biden, Clinton (both of them), Howard Dean and other prominent Democrats go aggressively negative on McCain/Palin's record.

That needs to happen now or the race will slip away. We've seen this movie before. Without direct, timely and aggressive action, at best this race will end up being a nail biter on election day. And we all know what happens when there is a nail biter of an election.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

McCain Campaign - Total Scum

If you ever doubted how low the Republican slime machine could go under the supposedly "honorable" John McCain, they are now accusing Obama of favoring sex ed over teaching children to read. No lie, not made up anger on my part, just what the McCain campaign itself is putting out over the airwaves.

Check out the the McCain scumminess here.

Facts Mean Nothing

Unemployment hit 6.1 percent this week

It was just announced that the Federal budget deficit doubled over the past year.

These are predictable outcomes of eight years of Republican Presidency and 12 years of Republican control of Congress over the past 14 years.

These things have real impact on everyday, regular, middle class Americans.

But hey, never mind all that! The media and Republicans say, "Look over here. Did we mention that Sara Palin is the VP candidate for McCain...and isn't she interesting."

And about half of America laps it up and is ready to vote for more of the same.

Can you tell I'm not happy with the way this thing is going?


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ammo for those election conversations

Sometime in the next 7-8 weeks, you will be in a conversation about the Presidential election. You'll be asked "Who are you voting for?" Or, it may be more like, "What do you think of Obama?" Or, "What do you think of McCain?" Perhaps you will be the one doing the questioning. 

Because the average, everyday American only pays attention to who is running and related issues...but usually only who is running...until the fall in any election year, you'll be talking to people who are pretty uninformed. Despite good intentions, they'll probably be judging the candidates on vague perceptions and the last TV ad they saw.

For those of you interested in not continuing down the complete road to ruin we've been put on by the Republicans over the greater part of the last thirty years, it's in all of our interests for you to try and sway the "undecided" or "soft McCain" voters between now and November.  The good news here is, the truth works in every situation.

Therefore, below are some tips for talking with people who are considering voting for McCain in 2008. Remember, there are always going to be people who will NEVER change their mind, no matter how bad things get under Republican rule. They loves them some Republicans and they are not voting against them. 

No, these ideas are not for conversing with that type of person, but rather those who are wavering or have yet to decide. Also to keep in mind, it's unrealistic to think you'll change someone's mind right there on the spot. Rather, give them something to think about. Finally, talking with undecided voters or those who may change is more effectively done in an easy-going tone rather than an argumentative or strident one.

Combating the case for McCain
If someone you're talking to says they are leaning towards voting for McCain or want to vote for him but have yet to make up their minds, the thing to do is look them in the eye and... 

You ask: "Why?" 

Then, sit back and see what they answer before saying anything more.

If their answer is something negative about Obama, here are some comebacks that I think can be effective to helping whomever you're talking to reconsider.

If they say: "I just think Obama is too inexperienced."
Then you say: Obama is a U.S. Senator, but you're right he is not a long-time Washington insider. I actually think that's a good thing now because we need someone who is not so entrenched in DC politics or beholden to so many special interests. On the other hand, McCain has been in the U.S. government for 26 years. Do you really want someone with that many attachments to lobbyists and special interests running things? 

If they say: "I think Obama is all about himself" or "Obama is too flashy and shallow."
Then you say: It's true that Obama is a really good speaker, but unlike McCain he has laid out many specifics of what change under his administration would mean and why those changes are needed to make our country stronger in key areas where we're hurting. Don't you want somebody as President who is both smart, can articulate what needs to be done and has the nation's interest at heart?

If they say: "I'm afraid Obama is too liberal - he'll raise my taxes and make government bigger."
Then you say: Hmm. That's odd. Obama has openly campaigned on lowering taxes on middle class Americans. He has talked about eliminating the tax cuts for the rich and big companies that Bush, McCain and the Republicans passed into, that's what McCain uses to say Obama will raise taxes. But, that's pretty shifty and very deceiving. Don't you think eliminating the rich-guy tax cuts is a good thing when combined with tax relief for the most people? It will help with the budget deficit and put money into working people's pockets instead of just big business.

In terms of big government, all I can say is that the Republicans have pretty much run the show for the better part of the last 28 years (President 20 of the last 28 years, controlled Congress 1995-2006) and it's as big as it's ever been. McCain has been part of that and let it happen.

If they say: "I think Obama may be too weak on national security - he will cut and run against the terrorists."
Then you say: Remember, on 9/11 Republicans were in control of the Presidency, Congress, the Department of Defense and the city of New York...and we were successfully attacked that day despite clear warnings they received. And, those same Republicans...including John McCain...who controlled all branches of the government voted in favor of going to war in Iraq on what we now know was a decision based on false pretenses. No matter how you slice it, these things add up to bad judgement on national security by McCain and Republicans.

We can't afford to have people with such bad judgement leading our country any more. I'd much more trust Obama - who opposed the war in Iraq from the get go in favor of finding Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

If the person you're talking to chooses to answer the "why" question instead with something he or she finds attractive about McCain or Republicans, here are some good comebacks...

If they say: "I agree more with McCain's values. I think they're right for America"
Then you say: Really? Did you know that McCain left his first wife for his current wife, Cindy? They met in a bar and he began a relationship with Cindy while he was still married - ultimately leaving his wife for Cindy. Also, did you know that John McCain was one of five Senators implicated in the "Keating Five" savings and loan corruption scandal in the early 1990s for illegally aiding bank chairman Charles Keating when his institution was under Federal investigation? 

Did you know that in 1998 he during a Republican party dinner speech he said, "Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno."? And, did you know that McCain voted against making the Martin Luther King holiday a holiday in Arizona in the 1980s? This is not the track record of morals and our country deserves better. It's also just more bad judgement by McCain. I think you should re-consider.

If they say: "McCain is a maverick and will shake things up."
Then you say:
That's an attractive idea, but did you know that McCain voted with President Bush's agenda 90% of the time over the past eight years? Also, McCain is the leader of the very political party whose policies over the past eight years have directly delivered problems such as high unemployment, outsourced jobs, unaffordable healthcare, high food prices, a shrinking middle class and a failing educational system. Now, McCain is literally saying he will continue Bush policies on healthcare, the economy, corporate tax breaks, Iraq and education. I don't see how that adds up to a "maverick" of any kind. Who wants more of that? 

If they say: "I think McCain has the experience we need as leader."
Then you say: Yes, he has served in Washington, DC for a long, long time. Unfortunately, that experience has brought us high unemployment, high gas prices, outsourced jobs and a very unpopular and un-needed war. It seems like his experiences has all been in creating problems and not solving them. 

If they say: "McCain is a war hero...just the kind of person we need in the White House."
Then you say: No doubt McCain served his country bravely in war time. However, that's really doesn't mean anything when it comes to how someone will perform as President. We've had war heroes as President before that were really good (Theodor Roosevelt), really bad (Civil War General U.S. Grant) and somewhere in the middle (Dwight Eisenhower). So, war service is not an indicator. 

Regardless of service, seems to me that we'd want someone with good judgement who will only put soldiers in harms way as a last resort and with a specific aim. McCain voted for the Iraq war, Obama opposed the war. I think that speaks pretty loudly about judgement on how to lead the military.

If they say: "I like his pick of Sarah Palin. We need a woman in there."
Then you say: Sure, I agree that having a woman as VP or President would be great, but just like any man, don't you have to judge that person based on their credentials, their record and what they say they stand for? In the case of Palin, she is in favor of some extreme positions that probably aren't the best for the country. For example, she opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest, she is in favor of teaching creationism in public schools, she is against stem cell research, and she believes the Iraq war is a mission sent from God. Also, her pastor has said that political opponents of George W. Bush will go to hell, and that "Jesus operates from a position of war mode."

But, in the end, Palin is not running for President - John McCain is. So, it's better to focus on he and Obama. That's who you're actually going to be voting for.

If they say: "I'm for/against issue X and I think McCain will be better on that."
You say: Hmmm. While single issue voting is certainly your right, isn't that really against the very slogan that McCain has right now - Country First? 

OK, enough. Good luck delivering the truth.

Later this week...presenting the case for Obama.

Gas Prices and the Election

OK, here's one for you...

It's my guess that gas prices will magically come down over the next two months as we lead up to the election. And, I think the tighter the race between Obama and McCain is, the more they'll come down. 

Why? I think the oil companies and the energy sector of our economy has enjoyed such historical success with Republicans in the White House that they will be willing to take a hit for a couple months to help ease one very painful economic issue that most Americans ascribe to "the economy"...and therefore, in theory, lessen their likelihood to turn out to vote or to vote for Obama.

We just bought a tankful yesterday, Sept. 6 at our local Shell station here in Seattle at $3.87 a gallon.  Lets see what it is on Nov. 1. 

My guess? Somewhere around $3.45 per gallon. Still higher than we were paying a year ago, but reduced enough that we fell like "things are getting better."

We'll see.

Friday, September 5, 2008

May the Best Perception Win

Another thought about what has shaped up over the past two weeks of political conventions is that it's now pretty clear what the dueling "positioning" efforts will be by McCain and Obama.
  • McCain Campaign - Make it a battle of personalities and perceived character. Say that Obama puts other interests above country first, intimate that his is not patriotic and talk about how he is inexperienced compared to McCain. Go on the attack full time. Do not talk so much about your own policy ideas. Keep Palin away from the media.
  • Obama Campaign - Make it a battle of ideas, judgement and the need for change in America. Offer new and specific ideas while tying McCain to George W. Bush and paint him as a guy who will simply continue the failed policies of the last eight years. Use the huge war chest to fight back each time challenged.
So, come November a majority of people will either think Obama is just not the right guy for the job or they'll decide they've had enough of conservative rule and vote for change. 

It seems obvious to me what the right choice is, but I said that four years ago and I was wrong. Also, being in the PR business, I can attest to the fact that emotional appeals and negative attacks almost always work when squared off against facts, logic and reason. 

So, I'm wary. 

Thursday, September 4, 2008

No Country for Old Men (Or Old Ideas)

The Republican convention has just wrapped up. John McCain delivered his speech pretty well and the conservative party have had their say.

While there are many, many issues that could be debated about what has been said by the GOP this week (many instances of utter and shameless hypocrisy come to mind), the thing that the convention and especially John McCain's speech drove home to me quite clearly is...

The last thing our country needs right now in a leader is a rich old man espousing old, disproven ideas that have directly led the huge problems our nation now faces.

Whether it's the economy, the Iraq war, relations with China and Russia, healthcare, jobs, energy policy, environmental policy...all of these things are spectacularly worse than they were eight years ago specifically because of the leadership, action (or inaction in many cases) and the so called "judgement" of Bush, the Republicans and definitely John McCain.

All I could think about each time that McCain made a point in his speech about what he was going to do to solve our problems was that he is the head of the party that created these very ills and he was offering nothing new - same old Republican punch lines. And lets face it, the Republicans have really been running things for much longer than the last eight years. They controlled Congress from 1995-2006 and the Presidency for 20 of the last 28 years.

We need new ideas, new people and change. Twenty six year DC insider John McCain literally goes around the country promising more of the same.

I can't vote for that and won't.

Further, because the Republicans have so totally failed with their policies I genuinely think those deciding to vote for McCain are in fact putting some very narrow interest - anti-abortion, lower corporate taxes, oil interests, some vaugue notion of family values - ahead of the overall good of the nation. The opposite of the "Country First" mantra of the Republicans. How else can you explain signing up for the exact some thing that got us into this mess. Or, McCain voters are making their judgements on some very, very subjective criteria like...he was a POW or he seems like a nice guy. Using that type of criteria got us George W. Bush.

Lets not repeat that again.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Diane!

Today is the birthday of my soul mate, best friend, love of my life - my wife Diane.

I can't say how old she is today...wouldn't be polite you know.

But I can say that my life is so much more full, interesting, fun and rewarding specifically because she is in it. She is a truly special person.

Here we are at left this past July.

We'll be raising a glass tonight in celebration. I for one will be thanking my lucky stars that she was born and somehow found me.

I love you Diane. Happy Birthday!

Monday, September 1, 2008

There's An A-Hole In Every Crowd (Sometimes Two)

This past weekend, some friends and I visited my alma mater, the University of Oregon, in Eugene for the season opening football game against big-time rival the University of Washington Huskies. As a proud alum, I sported the Oregon Ducks' green and yellow colors, and my friends being fans of Washington donned the purple and gold of their team.

After enjoying some beer, sunshine and people watching on the deck of Taylor's Bar near the UO campus during the afternoon, we began our foot commute to the stadium for the 7 p.m. kickoff.

When it comes to sports, these two schools and their fans love to hate each other, and therefore visiting the opposing school's turf is always a challenge for opposing fans. So, hats of to my friends coming down to Eugene to support their school and wear their colors proudly.

Despite this animosity, it must be said that 99.99 percent of all 58,000 fans on hand at the game said exactly nothing to my friends about their allegiance to the UW. And, their were several who even came up and said a friendly hello and thanked my Husky friends for coming. So, for the record, the overwhelming majority of Oregon fans were silent to very nice to the visitors from the north.


There's an a-hole in every crowd. Sometimes more. And we just so happened to run across two of them on our walk from campus to the stadium. Both were current students at Oregon and both were clearly really drunk. Alcohol fueled immaturity on display.

However, that's no excuse. Most people around us were pretty pickled, but only these two guys decided to yell obscenities and harass at my friends in purple...even getting on my case for walking with them.

What is it that possesses people to lose all sense of decency and yell and scream obscenities at others for no other reason that the color of shirt they are wearing? I guess it's a combination of insecurity, ignorance and a just plain mean streak some people have in them.

The first a-hole we encountered was one of several guys walking together to the stadium, and all he could do was berate my friends and me - with a LOT of profanity. Not creative profanity either. Just a spew of four letter words. I got to talking to one of his buddies - a cool dude who is shipping out to Iraq with his National Guard unit soon - and he couldn't figure out his friend's attitude either. He tried to calm him down, but to no avail. Eventually the guy must have got board and the little group progressed ahead of us. The end.

Perhaps the most depressing incident occurred after that when another a-hole started yelling at us. After hearing just one to many f-bombs hurled at my friends, I walked over to him and asked him to give it a rest...letting him know he wasn't representing himself of the UO very well. No yelling or foul language on my part. I just wanted to draw him away from my friends. He didn't like that. This guy was young, tall, athletic and had a six pack of beer dangling from one hand. So, I assume he as quite drunk.

He instantly got up in my face and challenged me to fight. "You think you're all big and can take me?" he said. Well, there's no way I was going to point. But that's when the depressing thing happened. This meathead's girlfriend grabbed my arm and said, "Please, please...just let it go. I know he's wrong. Just let it go. I've been dating him for eight years and he gets like this."

Stunned, I simply said "OK, we're on the same page" and I let it go. The kid walked ahead and that was that. Oh, in one last classy move, he did yell at his girlfriend and said, "Don't waste your time with that M-F." But, that's the last I saw of him.

I just kept thinking as I walked, "Wow, that kid has got real emotional problems, and his girlfriend is really in over her head dating and staying with someone with those type of anger problems." I really felt bad for her and hoped that this ape wouldn't at some point beat her.

What is it that burns inside some people that make them that incredibly mean, cruel and out of control? To be honest, these two negative incidences put a damper on what should have been a very fun experience - especially for me since the Ducks throttled the Huskies 44-10 on the football field.

Or, should I be equally impressed by all those people who were benign or very nice to my friends in purple? After all, there were far more of them. Does this behavior make up for the atrocious abuse we experienced?

Luckily, I can let this go. However, there's a young girl somewhere in Eugene dating a deeply insecure, immature and angry boyfriend. She and others like her are the ones who really stand to be hurt by the inner rage that some people have inside them. If a mere football game can bring that out so easily, what happens in everyday life?

I guess in the end, we all need to realize that there will always be an a-hole or two (really, really big a-holes) in any crowd and we should do our best not to be taken in by their behavior...but be willing to stand up for what's right and our friends if it goes too far.